Rep. Gutiérrez Remarks on Introduction of Assault Weapons Ban of 2015

“How many children under 21 have we lost to guns in years since the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 expired?  Too many.  In my city of Chicago, we lose a classroom full of young people almost every month.”

Washington, DC – On Wednesday, Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island introduced the Assault Weapons Ban of 2015, a bill to ban the sale, transfer, production, and importation of certain weapons and ammunition feeding devices.  Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez is an original co-sponsor of the bill and has consistently supported such legislation from his earliest days in Congress.  He voted for the assault weapons ban that was approved in 1994 and called for it to be strengthened, extended, and broadened in every Congress since then. 

The following are the remarks Rep. Gutiérrez delivered at a press conference today in the Capitol marking the introduction of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2015: 

Remarks As Prepared for Delivery:

Here is the story from Medill News Service, May 30, 2003:

Two Chicago congressmen pressured House Speaker Dennis Hastert on Thursday to take a greater leadership role in renewing the federal law prohibiting assault weapons.

"The weapons that are banned under this legislation are the most deadly and dangerous types of guns on the market today," said U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Chicago. Such guns are "weapons of choice in Chicago for drive-by shooters in my congressional district and in every congressional district across the city," he said.

That’s what I said when I co-sponsored the Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2003 – a bill to extend and strengthen the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban.

So more than a dozen years later, I am still fighting for an assault weapons ban – a ban first implemented 21 years ago.

I am not saying this to be nostalgic or to take a walk down memory lane.  I say it because this place is so stuck – so mired in partisanship and in entrenched lobbying groups like the NRA that we cannot even take action when everyone agrees.

On immigration, on guns, on climate, on nothing.

There is always one group who wants no action, who wants nothing to happen, who makes the other party so scared of taking any action that the Congress—year after year and decade after decade—takes no action.

How many children under 21 have we lost to guns in years since the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 expired?

Too many.

In my city of Chicago, we lose a classroom full of young people almost every month. 

And let’s be clear, it is not all assault weapons, but that is part of it. 

It is not all crime guns – the cheap guns that are brought into Chicago from Indiana, Wisconsin, Arkansas, and Mississippi to get around Chicago’s stricter laws – but that is part of it.

And we all know that we are losing children – young people – at the hands of the police as Chicago grapples with use of force policies, transparency, and the basic trust needed between a community and its police force – a fundamental building block of democracy and liberty which has failed us in Chicago dating all the way back to 1968.

An assault weapons ban does not solve all these problems, but it helps.  It does not take guns and bullets off of the streets completely, but it would help.

In the end, until we as Americans begin to see children at Sandy Hook, at Red Hook, at Back of the Yards, and the Southside and South Central as our own children, our own children being slaughtered by guns, by each other, by police, by drugs, and by our indifference – until that happens, we must keep raising our voice in their defense.

Thank you.

Rep. Gutiérrez represents the Fourth District of Illinois, is a Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is a Member of the Judiciary Committee and the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, and the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations. 

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